Snakes roar home to keep season alive

Sunday February 5, 2017

The Orangemen have lived to fight another day, after gutsing out a stirring 85-77 win over the Perth Wildcats in a ‘last chance saloon’ Sunday afternoon at the Cairns Convention Centre.

Seasons were on the line after 18 gruelling rounds of close competition, and one question remained: who wanted it more?

The contenders were numerous in a tense game from start to finish, but three Snakes in particular stood out: the main man in the middle Nathan Jawai, who put forward a man-of-the-match effort of 22 points and nine rebounds (seven offensive); import Tony Mitchell, who posted 20; and first-year player Mitch McCarron, who ripped down 10 rebounds and helped change the game through a high-energy period in the third quarter.

For the visiting Wildcats, Bryce Cotton was a beast with a game-high 26 points, and looked the best player on the court whenever he had the ball in his hands, while Damian Martin tried his best in all aspects of the game with a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Both sides were travel weary entering this matinee game in the Far North, having played interstate games less than 48 hours earlier. But neither side was complaining.

Taipans coach Aaron Fearne has talked over the last few weeks about the mental battle that faces them as the season winds down and playoff lives go on the line. And both sides grit the teeth and went right to work on the defensive end.

There were major concerns for Jawai’s health just two minutes into the second half, after he stretched for a rebound and strained his right shoulder. He left the court, but returned to action with the shoulder strapped a few minutes later.

“[The shoulder] is okay, it’s an old injury that I’ve aggravated. I’ve been lucky throughout the whole season that I haven’t done it, but it’s okay. It’s feeling better than it was when I first did it,” said Jawai, who played through the pain in the second half.

Cairns Taipans 85 (Jawai 22, Mitchell 20, Loughton 13)
Perth Wildcats 77 (Cotton 26, Wagstaff 13, Prather 11)

News Source: NBL Media